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Chicago Priest to Lead Diocese of Rochester

The Diocese of Rochester has elected the Rev. Karen Wagner Sherer, rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Chicago since 2005, as its next bishop. Sherer was one of three women nominated to become the ninth bishop, and she was elected on the fifth ballot.

Kara Wagner Sherer | Diocese of Rochester

The other nominees were the Rev. Canon Lauren Holder, canon for community and education at the Cathedral of St. Philip, Atlanta, and the Rev. Rachel Taber-Hamilton, rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in Everett, Washington, and vice president of the House of Deputies.

“I am excited that we are going to learn much more about each other and listen to God’s call to hopeful mission and ministry,” Sherer told the electing convention. “I know two things right now. We begin with mutual love — love that will be expressed in joy. We are going to have a lot of fun together, and we’re confident in that deep and abiding joy, given to us by our Creator to share with the world. Thank you. It’s an honor.”

Sherer is a graduate of St. Olaf College and Seabury-Western Theological Seminary. She was a teacher at St. Hilda’s and St. Hugh’s Episcopal School in New York (1993-96), and has worked in various ministries in greater Chicago since 1996. Her profile says she is the author of three hymn texts: “Children of God,” “I Sing of Mary,” and “Praise God.”

Rochester’s eighth bishop, the Rt. Rev. Prince Singh, resigned from the position in February 2022, and soon became Bishop Provisional of the dioceses of Eastern Michigan and Western Michigan. Singh is the subject of a Title IV investigation on accusations of abusing his ex-wife and two sons. He resigned his role in Michigan on the day after being placed on restricted ministry amid the charges.

The Rt. Rev. Stephen Lane, former Bishop of Maine, has served as Rochester’s Bishop Provisional since February 2022. Lane was canon to the ordinary in Rochester before his election in Maine.

One question Sherer addressed in an essay for her election profile concerned reconciliation and healing. Sherer told of being asked to provide last rites to a former parishioner. Sherer said the woman had left her parish after Sherer had “made a good decision but handled it poorly and learned a lot.”

“Though I was angry and hurt, I never shut the door on our relationship,” Sherer wrote. “We checked in occasionally and she continued to attend parish events. I walked to her house that winter day, grateful that a wise person once told me that we don’t fight with people we don’t love and that we continue to work on relationships because forgiveness and new life are always possible.”

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